So I’m just sitting here having a snack—these lovely peaches, as you can probably guess.
Before this moment in time I was having trouble figuring out what my next post should be about. Sure, I had some ideas; I always have ideas. However, I wasn’t particularly inspired enough by them to actually sit down and share them yet. Everything in due season, as I always say. I’ll just file them away for later. I’m sure they’ll come in handy one day.
Anyway, back to my awesome pitted snack. The minute I took them out my mind started wandering. I inspected the fruit for undesirable flaws, washed them thoroughly and dried them with the greatest of care. The wheels were turning. Even as I sliced the peaches I could feel a memory start to emerge from the mist of my mind. Suddenly, I had it. I knew what I wanted to say. Here I am now…getting ready to say it.
Let me tell you a “short” story real quick first to set the tone. As you may already know by now, none of my posts are ever short. I’m sincerely sorry for that. I do try to be concise, but I’m just a long-form kinda girl; it can’t be helped. You’ll eventually get used to my novel-length ramblings…hopefully.
One night, maybe two or so years ago, I randomly came across a certain photojournalist’s work that was being featured in a major publication. I was immediately intrigued by their latest project and went to their personal website to view the photo collection in its entirety. The project featured rarely seen, up close and personal photos of members of the KKK. He photographed their homes, their “outfits”, and their ceremonies. I was extremely fascinated.
Despite being in complete disagreement with the racist beliefs and practices associated with the people who align themselves with this group (for obvious reasons—I mean, look at me), I found the photographer’s work to be a bit of an educational masterpiece. It was a hauntingly beautiful collection of photos lifting the veil on one of the things that keeps this nation from reaching its full potential: a history of hate.
Additionally, the collection gave me the unique and unusual experience of being able to gain access to a sect of society that would never, ever allow me to observe them—all because of the color of my skin. (I have spent years studying various forms of deviant behavior, fringe groups, etc., so I find topics such as what was portrayed to be valuable from an educational perspective.) It was an uncomfortable work to look at, but I deeply appreciated the photographer’s efforts to expose a secretive and all too often forgotten blemish on mankind’s record. I was so moved by his work that I decided to sit down and contact him so I could tell him.
Normally, I am not the type to randomly talk to others. I’m perfectly friendly when approached, but ever since I was a child I’ve had a hard time approaching strangers and engaging them in (possibly unwanted) conversation. All the same, I had a very strong urging to congratulate the photographer on the success of his project and tell him what his work meant to me as a mere observer. So with shaking hands, I pecked out an email. After scanning it for typos about a million and two times, I sent it off. I never expected to hear back from him. I was just glad to have spoken my mind and given credit where I felt it was due.
Much to my surprise, I woke up the next morning to a reply. He had written me back! First he thanked me for my correspondence. He was glad that someone had not taken offense to the project’s sensitive subject matter (especially a woman such as myself). What he said next seriously warmed my heart. I still tear up just thinking back.
The photographer ended his email by thanking me for my kind and encouraging words. He said that it had made his week. Apparently, he had experienced a downright demoralizing day the day he’d received my email. Something had occurred to make him feel deeply discouraged, leaving him wondering if he was right to believe in the things he was pursuing. He confided that I had given him hope, a confirmation that he was indeed following the right path. I couldn’t have been more grateful in that moment. By fighting back my anxiety, I had unintentionally impacted someone’s life in a positive way just when they needed it most.
I shared all of this today because I’d like to make anyone who happens to read this a sincere offer. You can use it today, tomorrow, or even ten years from now—I’d be happy to honor it for as long as I can be reached. My offer is this: For anyone who ever finds themselves feeling alone, discouraged, frightened or uncertain, if you’d ever like someone to reach out to, I’d be happy to lend a listening ear.I don’t care if you simply want to vent, ramble or rave. If you would like someone to talk to and have them actually hear you, please contact me. Don’t suffer in silence. We could all use a friend.
I know I may be a perfect stranger, but I believe one of the callings in my life is to help people through challenging circumstances. Throughout my life, I have experienced so many different things; if I told you everything, I doubt you’d believe me. For many years, I sat alone through these experiences, wondering why such hurtful things had happened to me. Like many people, I bottled everything up and never told anyone how badly I was suffering inside. Instead, I pushed people away and remained intent upon “dealing with it” by myself.
I guess in some ways, I am still alone…but I no longer feel lonely, if that makes sense. That’s because: A.) I have God, and with Him I am never alone; and B.) I have decided to use my life experiences to help others work through the hardships they’re facing. I never want my past to have been in vain, so that’s why I often blog about slightly depressing or unhappy topics.
Though sometimes unpleasant, these are not only situations I have lived through and overcome, but situations others are currently wrestling with. If I can help prevent someone else from having to learn things the hard way or provide an encouraging word to someone caught in a bad situation, I’d like to do all I reasonably can.
Remember: It only takes one person—the right person at the right time—to change the entire course of someone’s day, month or entire life. You may be like me and feel too insignificant, too whatever to really make a difference in this world. You may be afraid to approach people and offer them a kind word. Don’t be!
If it is in your spirit to sow a seed of kindness in someone else’s garden, do it. You will never, ever know how that one seemingly small deed might make the world of difference to the recipient and yourself.